Thursday, February 23, 2006
Blue Jay's Downward Spiral
Oh, no! The Blue Jay Cafe on Divisadero and McAllister has changed hands. Jay Foster, one of the founders of Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, and Andre Larzoule, owner of Alamo Square Grill, have sold this once-fabulous soul-food neighborhood spot, and we had the most awful experience there a couple of days ago.
A party of six on a Sunday morning (Blue Jay never takes reservations), we waited outside for half an hour to get a table. No problem, there were a lot of us and we're used to waiting for brunch on Sundays. Everybody has brunch on Sundays. I'd been to Blue Jay once for Sunday brunch before, and remembered how long it took to get our food (2 hours from the time we showed up at the restaurant to the time food arrived on the table) Since the Blue Jay opened, service has always been slow and harried; two adjectives that should never have to be used together to describe service.
It took over an hour from the time we were seated at the table until the food arrived. Everyone's food arrived at different times, which is not usually a problem for laid-back us, but when the first person at the table has been finished eating for 15 minutes by the time the last person's food arrives, that's a big annoyance. Valentine ordered a normal breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled, a biscuit, potatoes, and bacon. Each component of his breakfast arrived on a separate plate, five minutes apart from each other. I ordered a Cobb salad, which was $7.95 and arrived on a side plate with no bacon, blue cheese, or avocado: the three reasons anyone orders a Cobb salad. After 20 minutes I was finally able to flag down the slow, harried waitress, who brought me out each of these components seperately. I eventually sent the salad back because by the time the avocado finally arrived, everyone else had been done eating anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes (depending on when their food had sporadically arrived). The waitress took my salad off the check (she explained that portions had been cut because of new ownership), extremely grudgingly.
We tipped 30% (most of us are restaurant people) but I am sad to say that I won't return to the Blue Jay. I feel sorry for servers who work in a restaurant during a change in ownership (although I did, at the place I work now, but it's a much bigger, more expensive, and corporate restaurant) because things like this happen. I know it wasn't her fault that all the food arrived at different times but it still really sucked for us.
Now, when I want a well-priced, neighborhood-y, delicious soul-food breakfast I'll have to walk all the way to Kate's Kitchen in the lower Haight for hush puppies with honey butter. There's always Eddy's Cafe (across the street from the Blue Jay) which has comforting ambience and simple eats (the best for a rainy day or a hangover breakfast), but not quite the caliber that the Blue Jay once was.